We’ve adjusted our everyday lives and kinda in a groove now. Sort of? Winter has always been kinda blah after the holiday rush. This year, of course, we’ve got additional challenges beyond the colder temperatures and icy sidewalks.  Carving time out for ourselves gets buried with virtual meetings and kids learning from home. The days are blurring for sure but we all gotta keep ourselves active physically and mentally. We know getting outside for fresh air is important. Heck, at least open the window for a bit even if it’s just for 5 minutes definitely helps us feel better.  There are plenty of things you can do to help break up the routine now.  We’re inspired by the online workouts, book clubs, theatre offerings that have shifted to motivate us in the comforts of our own homes. We started doing a sketch a day with friends and that’s been a fun outlet. If you’re interested in exploring your creative side, here are a few ideas that we’ve been exploring…

Sketch: simple and effective sketching each day helps to clear the mind and you don’t need much to get started. An empty book, drawing pencils, markers and away you go (I got my sketch supplies from Staples). Start a challenge with your friends and family and have a theme each day to work on. You can also use your tablet to also doodle with programs like Procreate and using a digital writing tool, you can doodle away without worry.

I use the Procreate app on the iPad with the Apple Pencil

Colouring pages: you can search up tons of colour pages online for all ages and all styles. I’ve discovered one of my favourite artists, Taiwanese-American contemporary artist James Jean is also offering a few of his works in colouring page format. This artist blends contemporary subjects with traditional Chinese and Japanese techniques. His work has been featured in many galleries and publications globally. His site is currently offering FREE downloadable colouring pages perfect for a pandemic times. Find them here.

If you head over Gucci’s official site, you will also find downloadable whimsical colouring and activity pages created by artist Yuko Higuchi.

Dotidoodle: for those who really want to stimulate your brain, take your favourite photo (can be a place, a person, a pet) and transform it into a work of art. Upload your image onto this site and they’ll create a beautiful mosaic poster where you colour the dots (instructions and professional markers included in the kit). Think puzzle meet doodle art in this calm and peaceful activity perfect for staying indoors. I’m a busy body but found this creative exercise richly satisfying in a very different way. Colouring in the dots may seem easy enough, but it requires concentration in a different manner. I’ve been working bit by bit anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour on the project each day. There are over 3000 dots to fill and I’m surprised at how long it takes to fill in the dots and still working on it (I provide updates on my Dotidoodle over on Instagram stories @theculturepearl ). Worth going over to their official site for more explanation. Great gift idea too.

DIY natural skincare & home remedies: I borrowed this idea from Ricola, the makers of herbal cough and sore throat remedies that has been a go-to for my family for years. BTW, they are also great for soothing dry throats from those all day long meetings and yelling at your computer screen! How about creating your own aromatherapy necessities like dried lavender, lemon balm and peppermint. Grow your own indoors now and as the plants mature you can easily use them to create your very own teas, bath salts, soaps, or add them to food. Learning about their healthy properties is part of the interest here. A great way to chase away the winter blahs. In the Summer, you can transplant them into your outdoor garden. The seeds were provided to me but you can find packets currently on Etsy and Lee Valley online. 

Elmwood Spa Virtual Facial: Winter dry skin? Maskne? How about a virtual facial? The iconic Elmwood Spa in Toronto has launched several DIY facials with perfectly measured out facial products that have been tried and true favourites with their clientele. Simple order the kit on their site and it will be sent directly to you. Then you will be sent a viewing on-demand link that offers tips and handy information on the steps for your facial. This will tie you over until we can safely get back in for a little TLC.

We Are Knitters Embroidery Kit: We took note of this DIY’s growing interest in recent year with modern takes on a traditional craft. We are Knitters, a Spanish-based knitting brand has reinvented the traditional concept of knitting and turned it into a modern day hobby for all ages, is introducing their latest DIY Embroidery Kits (launching January 27, 2021). The kits come complete with all the essentials: colourful cotton threads, a funky pattern, a wooden embroidery hoop, an embroidery needle and of course, instructions on how to embroider your garment of choice. Embroidery Kits will be available in the following patterns: Sun Gazer, Mushroom Magic, Charmed Planet and Serpent Devotion.